Branding At The Speed Of Business
The speed of business is getting faster. Month over month, it feels like it’s ticking up a notch. Timelines are shorter than ever before and the business landscape is constantly changing. Old processes that were slow, plodding and inflexible no longer work.
I can say that’s the case for branding, but I imagine it’s the case in every discipline in every industry around the world.
Branding is an enormous undertaking for an organization. It happens at a point of big change and many business processes depend on it to move the strategy and objectives of the organization forward.
At Monaco Lange, we’ve learned that businesses really can’t be patient for a slow, plodding branding process. If a brand process takes nine months, the business will have changed before the brand even launches. The story will be old before it even hits the presses. Opportunities will be missed.
On the flip side, branding takes time, methodology, research, planning, exploration and a lot of hard work to do well.
The challenge? Build a process that delivers exceptional brands at the speed of business—without cutting one single corner.
Fail faster to succeed sooner. It’s our agency mantra, born from the need to deliver exceptional work more quickly to the benefit of our clients.
Over the years, we’ve noticed that we invested a lot of time and passion into refining initial work—whether it be research plans, strategy decks, or brand stories— to “perfection” so we could show the client nearly complete work for their feedback. It took a lot of time, both in terms of a schedule and budget, to get to the first round in the creative process. We had briefings, brainstorms, work time, internal check ins, more work time, more internal check ins, more work time, and then the time it took to get the presentation ready.
And then the client got the big reveal.
Clients were usually very happy. (But we all have our misses!) They chose a direction, provided feedback, and we went back to revise and refine.
It’s not that this didn’t work well, but it was slow. And probably inefficient. We wondered:
Why couldn’t we bring the client into the conversation earlier, when the work was less “perfect” and less finished, so we could spend less time refining the directions that would get killed and more time refining the direction that would see the light of day?
This may seem obvious, but a lot of agencies forget this: clients know their businesses far better than anyone else. They should be involved in every process early enough to make as much of a positive impact on the final outcome as possible.
Our practice now is to spend most of the first round on ideas. We approach this round with these questions:
+ What does that look like?
+ How can we best solve this problem?
+ What haven’t we considered?
+ What’s another angle to take?
+ What’s an unexpected solution?
+ How can we push this further?
+ Are we fully solving the client’s problem with all the realities of their business in mind?
Then we work quickly to develop our best ideas just enough to show the client the possibilities so they can ask questions, think it through with us, and make a decision for moving forward.
Usually the client chooses a direction and provides feedback. Sometimes two directions win, or there’s a mix of directions. Or one direction loses, but inspires a different initiative entirely. Regardless of the outcome of that first, rapid round, we can refine, perfect and push ahead faster. The result?
+ Bigger and better ideas and less pointless pixel pushing.
+ A more efficient use of the budget. We spend more time perfecting the winning idea than trying to make the losers presentation-ready.
+ We get more input from the client before a project gets too far and things get more difficult to change.
+ We deliver a better, more strategically-sound finished product for the same budget and on a shorter timeline.
This approach is built into our Brand i/o process. It’s what’s allowed us to develop completely new brands for organizations in about four months, from research to strategy to brand development and creative execution.